Health chiefs are reminding those at greatest risk of catching flu that it’s not too late to get a free flu jab from their GP or local pharmacy.
While uptake of the free vaccination has been good, around 30,000 Central Bedfordshire residents who are eligible aren’t protected yet.
Most flu infections which occur during the winter months could be prevented with a simple vaccine. Those who are eligible for a free flu jab include:
>Anyone aged 65 years or older
>Those who are under 65 years and have a health condition such as diabetes, heart problem, kidney disease, liver disease, chest complaint or breathing difficulties, had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (mini stroke), problem with the spleen or a neurological condition
>Two and three year-old children (who are given a painless nasal spray)
Many of the 88,000 residents in Central Bedfordshire who fall into these qualifying groups had already been vaccinated by the end of November but almost 34,000 people had still not taken up their free vaccine. If you don’t fall into one of these ‘at risk groups’ you can pay for a vaccination privately at a pharmacy or supermarket.
Dr Helena Jopling, from Central Bedfordshire Council’s Public Health Team, said:
“Flu isn’t just a bad cold and for the most vulnerable members of our communities it can cause much more serious illness. It is a sad fact that last year in Bedfordshire 167 people died from illnesses that started out as flu.
“The best way to avoid getting flu is to get protected, so I would urge anyone who is at risk to arrange a vaccination. It’s worth remembering that the flu jab doesn’t just protect you, it protects those around you too.”
A list of pharmacies that are providing the free jabs locally can be found on www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/publichealth.
As well as getting vaccinated there are some simple steps you can take to protect others from catching flu. If you develop symptoms of flu:
>make sure that you cover your nose and mouth every time you cough or sneeze
>wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and throw your used tissues into a bin.